The King of Fighters XIV Review: TKO
Kalvin Martinez / Sep 1st, 2016 No Comments
The King of Fighters XIV didn’t create a good first impression when it was initially announced. Early screenshots looked rough, and the series shifting to 3D was worrisome. Even long-time followers of King of Fighters were taken aback by the early look.
A bad first impression is hard to overcome, but it isn’t impossible. The King of Fighters XIV manages to stand out against its lackluster first impression thanks to stellar gameplay.
The King of Fighters tournament returns! This time the tourney is hosted by the first ever champion, Antonov.
He has called on the best fighters to compete in teams for the glory and honor of being the next King of Fighters. The best team will face off against Antonov for the championship belt.
As teams from all over the world (and out of it) compete, the matches are aired live on TV to huge ratings. But the ratings and competitors aren’t up to Antonov’s outlandish standards. So, he tasks his employees with increasing the ratings dramatically and finding out what team is truly worthy of fighting him. While there are tons of strong fighters, only the strongest can truly be the King of Fighters.
In terms of story modes in fighting games, the plot in The King of Fighters XIV is okay. There is a goofy charm to the cutscenes between fights, with Antonov being a delightfully oafish buffoon.
Some of the nonsense he spouts is hilarious. He is a true blowhard in the Mr. Satan fashion. Much of what makes the story entertaining is surface level and dependent on whether you find Antonov amusing.
There is some actual banter between characters during the story mode, but it is highly contextual. If you’re not currently fighting as the character with a relationship against your foe, you won’t trigger the scenes.
Complicating matters further is the a la carte character selection. You can create a team of any of the 50 characters, which can lead to a crazy amount of permutations in order to get character interstitials. This is a shame because the character moments are great, but unless you’re highly invested in the KOF mythos, you probably won’t see them.
Moves Like Bogard
The King of Fighters doesn’t miss a step when it comes to combat. The same gameplay fans have come to expect from the series returns, just with a bit more visual flair.
Players can compete in three-on-three matches, which remain the same as previous entries. Selecting the best team from the game’s 50-character roster is key, and picking the right order for your team adds strategy.
Every character has a shared set of basic offensive and defensive skills, and utilizing these correctly are foundational to success in the game. If you’re not able to perform blocks, dodges, and jumps correctly, you’ll leave yourself open to massive damage and plenty of losses.
Sometimes victory doesn’t come down to pulling off a flashy super move. It may be about blocking at the right time and countering with a strong punch or swift kick.
Building on the basic moves, you can get more advanced with the different levels of super moves. Every super move can change or morph depending on a number of circumstances, including amount of meter and button input. What changes someone from a novice to a champion is knowing when and where to unleash the different type of super moves.
While the gameplay allows for high-level play, The King of Fighters XIV does what other fighting games have been doing recently by making the gameplay more accessible. To that end, newcomers can utilize a new “Rush” mode, which is literal button mashing that culminates in super moves.
It empowers new players to feel effective and comfortable. However, it won’t do much against more skilled players, so it gives matches a good balance.
Online play runs smooth for the most part, but I experienced some small hiccups. Sometimes it is hard to get into a match, but once you’re in, it runs well.
There is a wide variety of modes to try out against players from around the world, from traditional matches to more unconventional ones.
“Party Mode” allow players to compete in three-on-three team matches where six players control individual characters and share meter. This is a crazy mode that requires strategy and trust to succeed because victory can be won or lost by a single player screwing up.
One of the biggest issues facing KOF XIV before its release was its graphics. The early screenshots looked terrible. It honestly looked like PlayStation 2-era graphics. Visually, it appeared to be lacking.
However, from initial announcement to full release, the graphics have improved. They aren’t perfect by any means, but the visuals are much better than the first impressions of the game displayed.
The faces on the characters still have PlayStation-era anime faces. In comparison to the nice environments, good body modeling on characters and solid textured, the faces are laughable.
Still the visuals are pretty good in the full release.
Despite its bad first impression, The King of Fighters XIV is surprisingly good. It isn’t quite a home run, but it is a worthy entry in the storied series. The gameplay is fast and fluid with a great presentation, even if the graphics are still lacking in some respects.
All in all, it isn’t a bad transition from 2D to 3D for the series. In spite of any flaws, the game runs fluid and smooth at 60fps, which is perfect for hard-hitting action.
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